Monday, July 9, 2007

Contests in Cowardice

Finally, now that even some influential Republican Senators up for reelection are beginning to defect from the War Party, The New York Times (July 8) published a full page editorial that began with the words: “it is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.”

Note, though, because this is likely to become a major fault line in the months ahead: what the Times proposes is not exactly a withdrawal but a redeployment to secure bases outside areas of major turbulence. This is what Hillary Clinton wants too, and she’s not the only Democratic candidate to hold this view. In other words, there is a consensus emerging among former Bush aiders and abettors that the best and perhaps the only way to secure strategic control of Middle Eastern oil and to promote the image of overwhelming American military power is to follow the example of Ariel Sharon and his successor, Ehud Olmert, in Gaza when it became clear to them that an overt occupation couldn’t be indefinitely sustained. To maintain Gaza as an outdoor prison for Palestinians, they decided to change tactics by continuing the occupation in less incendiary ways -- retaining control from outside the territory itself. Needless to say, the result has been catastrophic. Would it be better in Iraq? It isn’t likely. There, the only way out, for both Iraquis and Americans, is for the U.S. military to leave outright. But that doesn’t stop the Clintonites [on the concept of clintonism, see “Combat Clintonism!” April 27] or their co-thinkers at The New York Times. It is as if it is not enough just to do the bidding of the Israeli government; the down (but not out) War Party wants to follow their debased moral and intellectual example as well.
Still, it is a hopeful sign that the Times and the War Democrats have gone as far as they have. It is hopeful too that on NPR’s “Morning Report” (July 9), the doyenne of conventional wisdom, Cokie Roberts, saw fit to emphasize how the Democratic Congress now has an approval rating of 23% -- lower even than Cheney and Bush. Congressional Republicans are liked even less, so arguably the Democrats have nothing to fear on this count – yet. But they certainly have ample political cover for inching closer to positions – on the war and on a host of domestic policies, including health care – that the vast majority of Americans plainly want.

Also in the July 8 Times, Frank Rich wrote a wonderful column (“A Profile in Cowardice”) the gist of which is that George Bush’s presidency – and life – are defined not just by rank incompetence, as nearly everyone nowadays understands, but also by a profoundly inerrant cowardice. It is a point that those who dwell only on his government’s incompetence should take to heart. But they should realize too that no one in the GOP, not even Bush, holds a candle to the leadership of the Party of Pusillanimity, the POP – refusing, even now with the whole world behind them, to put Constitutional processes in motion for removing Cheney and Bush from office before their scheduled departure eighteen long months from now.

Note: On Monday, July 23, Cindy Sheehan, evidently back from the “retirement” that she announced on Memorial Day, will lead a march from the Arlington National Cemetery to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers’ office on Capitol Hill to try to pressure him, finally, to move forward with impeachment hearings. She also plans to announce that, unless Nancy Pelosi changes her mind on the impeachment question by then, unless she agrees that it is no longer “off the table,” that she will run against her in the 8th Congressional district of California. These are efforts worthy of wholehearted support. So too are all attempts by genuine war opponents to unseat the current crop of Pelosiites [on pelosiism, see “Pelosiism: the Highest Stage of Clintonism,” May 28] who profess to side with their constituents while doing exactly the opposite.

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